Posts

Nasheed Hub: Ya Arham al-Rahimeen

The Nasheed Hub, an initiative of SeekersHub Global, aims to showcase the traditional Islamic art of nasheed, or Islamic devotional songs.

Ya Arham al-Rahimeen

Ya Arham al-Rahimeen (O Most Merciful of Those Who Show Mercy) is a very unique nasheed. It is in the form of a long, beautifully complex prayer, and it calls on Allah to help the believers in their time of need.

It begins by calling on Allah through His Blessed Names: The Generous, the Merciful, the Clement, The Powerful, and Mighty. The singers recognize that they have no one but Allah, and no salvation except for their Lord. They then ask Allah to send them a righteous leader that they can follow, rather than being forced to follow a corrupt one. They hope for a leader who abolishes evil, enjoins the good, and removes distress.

The singers would then go on to ask for other things to alleviate their suffering. They ask for beneficial rainfalls that continue throughout the years, forgiveness from sins and a good ending.

Click the image below to scroll.

[pdf-embedder url=”https://seekersguidance.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Ya-arham-al-rahimeen.pdf” title=”Ya arham al rahimeen”]

About Nasheed Hub

Throughout the decades and civilizations of Islam, the vocal tradition, sometimes known as nasheed or devotional songs, were penned as a way of celebrating and giving thanks to Allah for the message of Islam, as well as for the Messenger himself.
These nasheeds were a way for people to turn towards their Lord in joyful celebration, rather than stringent routine. They were also tools to spread the message of Islam in a non-confrontational way. These nasheeds were able to reach out to those who were alienated or indifferent to the religion and the Muslim community, as well as to teach children who were too young for academic study.
These nasheeds originating from all corners of the Muslim world – from West Africa to Malaysia, from Turkey to Great Britian – mirror their own culture but all carry a common thread: love of Allah and His Messenger.
This series will explore the different nasheeds, penned by some of the great historical Muslim figures, poets, and scholars.


Resources for Seekers

Habib Ali al Jifri and the Man Who Killed His Teacher

Habib Ali al Jifri tells the story of the day he met the man who killed his teacher and unfolds it into a lesson on showing mercy to those who wrong us.

I was in Aden.

Someone who was one of the leaders of the regime which killed scholars in this blessed valley [of Hadramawt] was present in a gathering I was in. Fate had it that I should meet him.

This man was one of the key suspects in the abduction of my master, the Imam and Martyr, Habib Muhammad ibn Salim ibn Hafiz. On merely seeing him and being told who he was, I felt extremely uncomfortable. This is human nature.

It was difficult for me to talk to him even for the sake of dawah. I confess this is a mistake and a shortcoming. Regardless of how much I love my teachers, calling to Allah is a duty which dictates we speak to everyone whoever they are.

All of a sudden, he came up to me and said: “I want to repent. How do I go about this?”
I tried to contain myself so I could answer his questions. Tried to smile so I would not turn him away from the truth.

After I returned from the gathering, I still felt uncomfortable. So I phoned my master, Habib Umar, and told him about this person. He asked: “What does he want?”

I said: “He approached me saying he wants to repent to Allah. I knew you would tell me to call him to Allah, but I had great difficulty speaking to him and I disapproved of my state.”

He said: “Ali, fulfill Allah’s right upon you in guiding him to Allah. Bring forth mercy and concern for him from your heart. As for you disliking being in his company or looking at him, turn it into hatred for his actions and not for him as a person.”

“The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, accepted Wahshi’s Islam even though he had killed his uncle Hamza but he found it difficult to look at him. So he said: ‘Let him not show his face to us.’”

These words are priceless.

These words are priceless, because the one who said them is talking about a man who did the greatest evil to him: he caused him to lose his father and caused the family to be split up.

Yet look at how he applied the Prophetic principle. He immediately brought to mind the statement of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “Let him not show his face to us.”

This is what Habib Abu Bakr al Adani speaks of regarding the concept of trying to find a precedent from the life of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, for every event that occurs.

 


With gratitude to Muwasala.


Ask in the Presence of Allah – Dr Shadee Elmasry

Dr Shadee Elmasry recounts the narration on the reduction of prayers from fifty to five and lists nine things we can learn from this.

In the Isra and Miraj, the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, tells us:

Then the prayers were enjoined on me: they were fifty prayers a day. When I returned, I passed by Moses, who asked: “What have you been ordered to do?” I replied: “I have been ordered to offer fifty prayers a day.” Moses said: “Your followers cannot bear fifty prayers a day, and by Allah I have tested people before you, and I have tried my best with Bani Israel (in vain). Go back to your Lord and ask for reduction to lessen your followers’ burden.” So I went back, and Allah reduced ten prayers for me. Then again I came to Moses, but he repeated the same as he had said before. Then again I went back to Allah, and He reduced ten more prayers. When I came back to Moses he said the same. I went back to Allah, and He ordered me to observe ten prayers a day. When I came back to Moses, he repeated the same advice, so I went back to Allah and was ordered to observe five prayers a day. He told me to go for a further reduction, but I was ashamed to ask for more.

Why did Allah go through all of this when he knew what the final number would be? Why not just ordain five from the start? What is this supposed to teach us?

Nine Points of Learning

1. It is supposed to teach us the approachability of Allah. That he is approachable with our dua. That we should never stop returning to Him asking for ease and mercy even if over and over again.

2. It also demonstrates the importance of the prayer, for we were asked for fifty a day, a very large number.

3. It also puts on display the importance of asking those who have experience. In this case, the prophet who is about to lead a nation, asking the prophet who already led a nation.

4. It also shows the compassion the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, had for his umma, for he went back and forth quite a number of times, all for his concern with our well being.

5. It also shows the generosity of Allah with the umma of the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, for even though we are doing only five, we are getting the reward of fifty, since one good deed is rewarded ten times over.

6. It shows that things unfold slowly, for the decrease did not go from 50 to 5 right away, but rather through steps and stages, for which we need diligence and patience.

7. So that the believers can feel the blessing of the reduction. If a mu’min feels the burden of five prayers a day, he feels relief knowing that it was originally fifty.

8. It is a gift to Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, that he was given the opportunity to show his concern for us and decrease the burden from off of Allah’s most beloved umma. Every individual Muslim is now indebted to him for this great ease which we experience daily. Our payment of that debt is recognizing his favor and increasing in our love for him.

9. It shows that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, could enter the Divine presence at will.

And Allah knows best.


Dr Shadee Elmasry was born and raised in New Jersey. He began studying at the age of eighteen, traveling to a number of countries including Egypt, KSA, Yemen and Morocco.

In addition to traditional learning, Dr Elmasry has received has an MA from The George Washington University and a PhD from the University of London SOAS.

Dr Elmasry went on to teach at several universities including Yale University, University of London SOAS, Trinity College, Hartford Seminary, and Manhattanville College.

Currently, he serves as Scholar in Residence at the New Brunswick Islamic Center in New Jersey. He is also the founder and head of Safina Society — an institution dedicated to the cause of traditional Islamic education in the West.


Day 17: Be A Mercy Warrior–30 Deeds 30 Days

Day 17: Be A Mercy Warrior 

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is the door to Allah’s Mercy. However, mercy is not always something that is in people’s hearts. It requires courage, and sacrifice. It requires being a warrior of mercy. All cultures universally respect the warrior, because of what they have to sacrifice.

Take your first step by striving for people’s basic human rights. Commit to a regular act of community service, and don’t limit yourself to just your religious or cultural community. Find a creative way to bring mercy to others, using your interests and gifts.


Bring new life to this Ramadan by enrolling in a FREE On-Demand course.

The Science of the Heart – Safina Society Podcast

The Safina Society team is joined by Mufti Niaz Hannan and Yusuf Hussain to discuss Tasawwuf, what it is, why it is needed, and how to recognize it.

With these two final episodes, the Safina Society team close out their season on a wonderful, warm, engaging, and lively discussion of Tasawwuf.

What it is. What it isn’t. Its sources, roots, methods, proofs, and fruits. Why we need this knowledge. How to understand this “science of the heart.”

They also give concrete and heart-awakening examples of common people in our communities who, knowingly or not, “truly [are] what we would call, the people of Tasawwuf.”

 

With gratitude to Safina Society.


Sura al Kahf: Musa, Khidr and Knowledge – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Shaykh Walead explains the story of Musa and Khidr, peace be upon them. He highlights the key lessons from the story and its major theme.

Now we get to the parable of Musa and of Khidr, peace be upon them. Tribulation with one’s knowledge – what one thinks one knows. It’s mentioned that Musa, peace be upon him, that he believes that or he believed that there was no one more knowledgeable than he. And then Allah directed him to “a servant among our servants” where he might learn something that he did not know.

Another narration says that the Prophet Musa, peace be upon him, said that if there is someone who is more knowledgeable than me, then Allah lead me to him. I want to meet him, so that I may learn from him.

The River and the Ocean

Musa, peace be upon him, is of the five considered to be the five greatest prophets and messengers. The other four being Ibrahim, Nuh, Isa, and Muhammad, peace be upon them. So we can’t say that Khidr overall was greater than Musa, who also was sent as a messenger, peace be upon them.

The most that they say about Khidr is that he was a prophet, and even that is a point of contention. Not everybody agrees that he was a prophet. In other words, that he received revelation. So how is it then that Musa, peace be upon him, can learn something from someone who overall is less than he is. That’s the whole point of the story.

Sometimes you can find things in the river you don’t find in the ocean. If Khidr was a river he certainly had things that Musa did not have. The three things that Khidr did and then the justifications of why he did them cannot be understood in terms of outward aspects of Islamic law – or the Shari‘a. They can’t be reconciled.

Outer Form, Inner Truth

That’s why Musa had the objections that he did, peace be upon him. He had to object because from the outward aspect of it there’s no way they could be justified. But then Khidr shows him that inwardly there is a reason.

Allah Most High says:

وَإِذْ قَالَ مُوسَىٰ لِفَتَاهُ لَا أَبْرَحُ حَتَّىٰ أَبْلُغَ مَجْمَعَ الْبَحْرَيْنِ أَوْ أَمْضِيَ حُقُبًا

And when Moses said to his servant, “I will not give up until I reach the meeting of the two seas, though I go on for many years.” (Sura al Kahf 18:60)

It said that the servant was a great-grandson of Yusuf, peace be upon him. His name is Yusha (Joshua). He was in the court of Al Aziz – the court of Pharaoh in Egypt. He was with Musa, peace be upon him.

When he says: “I will not give up until I reach the meeting of the two seas.” He had received revelation from Allah that this is where you may find him. No one knows exactly where that is. Different opinions have been given.

Some have said that it’s where the two rivers meet between Azerbaijan and Armenia. Another opinion says that it’s actually where the Strait of Gibraltar is, which would be where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.

Meeting of the Two Seas

It’s not the important aspect of the story but there was an appointed place where they were supposed to meet so they go.

فَلَمَّا بَلَغَا مَجْمَعَ بَيْنِهِمَا نَسِيَا حُوتَهُمَا فَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ سَرَبًا

Then, when they reached their meeting point, they forgot their fish, and it took its way into the sea, being free. (Sura al Kahf 18:61)

One of the things that Musa, peace be upon him, received as revelation is that when you reach the point of the two oceans or the two seas, you will lose your fish that you brought as provision to eat. Then you will know that is where to find him because he doesn’t find you, you find him.

This shows you adab al ‘ilm: that the seeker goes and finds the teacher, not that the teacher goes and finds the student. Musa, peace be upon him, is the one who went out forth even though he is the prophet and the greatest messenger living on the face of the earth of the at the time, which would make him the greatest human being living on the face of the earth at the time. Yet he is the one who’s going to seek not the one to be sought.

Prophet, Teacher and Student

So even though some some people may be teachers they’re also always going to be students. It’s not a mutually exclusive thing. Every teacher is a student, although not every student is a teacher.

فَلَمَّا جَاوَزَا قَالَ لِفَتَاهُ آتِنَا غَدَاءَنَا لَقَدْ لَقِينَا مِن سَفَرِنَا هَـٰذَا نَصَبًا

When they had passed over, he said to his page, “Bring us our breakfast; indeed, we have found weariness in our journey.” (Sura al Kahf 18:62)

قَالَ أَرَأَيْتَ إِذْ أَوَيْنَا إِلَى الصَّخْرَةِ فَإِنِّي نَسِيتُ الْحُوتَ وَمَا أَنسَانِيهُ إِلَّا الشَّيْطَانُ أَنْ أَذْكُرَهُ ۚ وَاتَّخَذَ سَبِيلَهُ فِي الْبَحْرِ عَجَبًا

He said, “Did you see? When we took refuge in the rock, then I forgot the fish, and it was Satan himself that made me forget it so that I should not mention it – and it took its way into the sea in a marvelous manner.” (Sura al Kahf 18:63)

قَالَ ذَٰلِكَ مَا كُنَّا نَبْغِ ۚ فَارْتَدَّا عَلَىٰ آثَارِهِمَا قَصَصًا

He [Musa] said, “This is what we were seeking!” And so they retraced their steps. (Sura al Kahf 18:64)

In other words that was the sign that Must, peace be upon him, was waiting for from Allah Most High.

فَوَجَدَا عَبْدًا مِّنْ عِبَادِنَا آتَيْنَاهُ رَحْمَةً مِّنْ عِندِنَا وَعَلَّمْنَاهُ مِن لَّدُنَّا عِلْمًا

Then they found one of Our servants unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and We taught him knowledge from Our Presence. (Sura al Kahf 18:65)

A Servant of Allah

This ‘abd: Khidr, peace be upon him, is described again as a servant of Allah. This could mean he that was a prophet. Again there is a difference of opinion. It seems that he could not have known what he knew except by revelation. That would give credibility to the idea that he was a prophet. In all likelihood he probably was.

Allah says: “unto whom We had given mercy from Us, and We taught him knowledge from Our Presence.” Mercy and knowledge go hand in hand, because if your knowledge doesn’t need lead you to mercy it will lead to poison and destruction.

That which is powerful of itself – and there’s nothing more powerful than knowledge, than to know – if it’s not coupled with or tempered by mercy, it could be destructive rather than productive. That is often what happens. Knowledge can be used for very destructive ways.

A Mercy from Allah

Even knowledge of the religion can be very destructive. People can use it as a hammer to beat people into submission, rather than as an tool of mercy as was originally intended. Now Khidr had both, which means that any of the things that he did, even if we don’t understand them outwardly, were still done by Allah’s mercy.

The type of knowledge that Khidr, peace be upon him, had was not a taught knowledge. He didn’t learn it from anybody. No one taught it to him. This is referred to as al ‘ilm al ladunni, which is directly inspired knowledge from Allah Most High, of which any human being can avail themselves.

You don’t have to be a prophet. Allah can inspire you to do things or can put things in you: knowledge or epiphanies or realizations of things that you didn’t realize before.

It could be reflection on a verse. It could be a particular circumstance or situation in your life. Years later or even at the time you see the wisdom of why it happened the way it happened. Things like these are things Allah can can give you as gifts.

Knowledge and Illumination

Khidr’s ‘ilm was ladunni. So was Musa’s knowledge, peace be upon them. Musa, peace be upon him, was a prophet and a messenger. He received revelation but he was also a messenger with what we call the Shari‘a.

Usually when we talk about Shari‘a in this sense, it means that which regulates outward acts. What we call the dhahir: things that you do outwardly, or the manner by which you do them. for example, the prayer ritual, the manner by which you fast, what days and when, and the manner of determining who is eligible for zakat and who is not, and interactions and commercial transactions. All those things we understand by the term Shari‘a.

And the Shari‘a is always underlined by something else called the haqiqa. That is a bit of Sufi terminology but they use it to describe the practice and implementation of the Shari‘a, which is then called tariqa: walking the way or following the way.

This will lead you to this thing called haqiqa, which is the unveiling and cognition of why things happen the way they do and the reality behind things. And the knowledge of Khidr, peace be upon him, is as if it was concentrated more on the haqiqa than the Shari‘a, because he did things that in at least two cases contravened the Shari‘a.

Fear of the Unknown

You would say, if he didn’t know better: That’s haram! How could you do that? You’ve made a transgression! That is why Musa, peace be upon him, objects. And Khidr, peace be upon him, tells him at the beginning: You’re not going to be patient enough with me. You’re going to object, but we’ll do it anyway and we’ll see how that turns out.

So then Musa, peace be upon him, says to Khidr in the next verse:

قَالَ لَهُ مُوسَىٰ هَلْ أَتَّبِعُكَ عَلَىٰ أَن تُعَلِّمَنِ مِمَّا عُلِّمْتَ رُشْدًا

Moses said to him, “Shall I follow you so that you teach me, of what you have been taught [by Allah] of right judgment.” (Sura al Kahf 18:66)

قَالَ إِنَّكَ لَن تَسْتَطِيعَ مَعِيَ صَبْرًا

Said he [Khidr], “Surely you will not be able to bear with me patiently.” (Sura al Kahf 18:67)

وَكَيْفَ تَصْبِرُ عَلَىٰ مَا لَمْ تُحِطْ بِهِ خُبْرًا

“And [says Khidr] how should you patiently bear what you have no knowledge of?” (Sura al Kahf 18:68)

Ignorance Is a Test

As our Master Ali said: “A person is an enemy of that which did not know.” It is just so much easier if you don’t understand something to say: Oh, it’s wrong or, it’s not right. Rather than admit that one does not know.

That is because it is easier on the ego. It is easier to shift blame to the thing, the object of your scorn that you don’t know, rather than to shift the blame on yourself. We think or say: “All those people are like that. That’s the way they are.”

But do you know them? Have you met them? “No, no. But that’s the way there are.” That is the ego speaking. You haven’t even seen them. You have no interaction, but yet you base it on a preconception.

So Khidr, peace be upon him, is just stating a fact of the human condition. There is a great lesson in this.


This lesson by Shaykh Walead Mosaad is part of the On Demand Course: Giving Life to Sura Al Kahf, in which Shaykh Walead explains the key lessons of Sura al Kahf: the four great stories in it and the four great tests they represent. Namely the tests of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power. Download the entire lesson-set here.

View other SeekersHub On Demand Courses here.


O Seeker! – Habib Ali al Jifri

Habib Ali al Jifri speaks on overcoming the seven obstacles in spiritual wayfaring to Allah Most High, and the fruits thereof.

This is the third and perhaps final series of “O Seeker!” by His Eminence al Habib Ali al Jifri, may Allah preserve him and benefit us by him.

The first series filmed in 2008 in the Grand Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, may Allah grant its people relief, was about the concept of spiritual wayfaring to Allah, the Exalted, and awakening a desire for it.

The second series held in the Heart of Chechnya Mosque in Grozny in 2016 detailed how to overcome each of the seven obstacles during spiritual wayfaring to Allah.

The current series of thirty episodes is about the fruits of overcoming these obstacles, which are spiritual stations and spiritual states. If Allah wills, a new episode will be added to this playlist everyday this Ramadhan (2018).

The program also airs on TV on the following channels (GMT +3 Makka time):

Al Irth al Nabawi (Nilesat 11334H) – 7:30 p.m., 1:30 a.m., 1 p.m.
CBC (Nilesat 11488H) – 10 p.m., 12 p.m.
CBC +2 – 12 a.m., 2 p.m.
Extra CBC – 3.10 a.m., 3:45 p.m.
Palestine (Nilesat 11823H) – 2:30 a.m.
Libya (Nilesat 10872H) – 1:10 a.m., 5 a.m.

Among the works referred to are Al Risala al Qushayriyya of Imam Abd al Karim al Qushayri (465 AH / 1072) of Nishapur, Iran, and Manazil al Sai‘rin of Shaykh al Islam Khwaja Abdullah Ansari (481 AH / 1088) of Herat, Afghanistan. May Allah be pleased them!

The program airs with English subtitles.


With gratitude to Muwasala.org and Almoreed.com.


Sura al Kahf: The Opening Verse – Shaykh Walead Mosaad

Shaykh Walead Mosaad gives an overview of Surah Kahf, its virtues, significance and the background context for the reasons it was revealed.

Abu Darda’ reported that Allah’s Messenger, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “If anyone learns the first ten verses of the Sura al Kahf by heart, they will be protected from the Dajjal.” (Muslim)

Abu Sa’id al Khudri reports that the Prophet, blessings and peace be upon him, said: “Whoever recites Surat al Kahf on Jumu‘a a ray of light will shine for them from one Jumu‘a to the next.” (Nasa’i, Bayhaqi, Hakim)

Sura al Kahf is the eighteenth of 114 suras in the Qur’an. But as many of you are aware, generally, the order of the chapters is by length. Sura al Baqara, for instance, is the longest. It’s not the first but the second after al Fatiha. Most of the long chapters of the Qur’an are Medinan in terms of their Revelation. So there’s two broad types of Qur’an at least from the aspect of when and where it was revealed. The Qur’an revealed in Mecca and the Qur’an that was revealed in Medina.

The longer chapters – there are exceptions — generally are revealed in Medina, because you have a much more sort of elucidation of mu‘amalat, of relationships and how to deal with one another, especially with the People of the Book. Whereas in Mecca the chapters are much shorter. Virtually all of the chapters in the last few juz are Meccan in origin.

Sura al Kahf comes exactly in the middle. There are fifteen juz before and about fifteen juz after it. Imam Tahir ibn Ashur he says that the actual middle word or middle letter of the whole Qur’an is found in Sura al Kahf. He said one opinion is that it’s in the verse:

وَلْيَتَلَطَّفْ وَلَا يُشْعِرَنَّ بِكُمْ أَحَدًا

And let him behave with care and courtesy, and let him not inform any one about you. (Sura al Kahf 18:19)

The Middle Point of the Qur’an

The first ta’ in talattaf is the middle letter of the whole Qur’an, such that all the words or letters before it are equal to all the words and letters after it.

Much like the beginning of the Qur’an which begins with the words in Sura al Fatiha 1:1:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِينَ

the second half of the Qur’an begins with the words in Sura al Kahf 18:1:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ

So both halves begin with al hamd. That I think is the quintessential type of dhikr. It
encompasses all of the other types of dhikr because when you say Alhamdulillah, I think inherent in the meaning is Allahu akbar, and subhan Allah, and la hawla wa la quwatta illa bi Allah. Because when you say all praise – all that is good in life and in the next life, all that we have that makes us who we are – is due to Allah Most High, that has the meaning of tanzih.

It has the meaning of ultimate transcendence, because we’re saying the praise is for no one but Allah. When we when we are making a transcendent statement about Allah Most High we mean that there is nothing comparable unto Him. Nothing could be like Allah Most High. Essential in understanding praise is that we shouldn’t praise anything except that we know its ultimate source is Allah.

Sabab al Nuzul

The mufassirun say that for many of the verses there are certain hadith that give us an idea, an inkling, about this thing called sabab al nuzul, which means the reason for revelation. What we mean by reason for revelation isn’t that the verse came as an answer to a particular question at the time, or that it was only valid for that particular question. All of the mufassirun, all of the commentators, agree that the meaning or the lesson is in the overall meaning of the verse, not the specific particularity of how and when and why it was revealed.

We know that much of the Qur’an, not all of it, but much of it was revealed in response to something that was going on at the time. Sometimes the response in the verses will not be so explicit but rather implicit. One of those implicit instances is here and in the beginning of Sura al Kahf, when it says

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ وَلَمْ يَجْعَل لَّهُ عِوَجًا

Praise be to Allah Who hath revealed the Scripture unto His slave, and hath not placed therein any crookedness.

Perhaps you might recall from hadith that our Lady Hawa, or Eve, was created from the crooked rib of the Prophet Adam, peace be upon him. Crooked doesn’t mean vile or wicked. It means bent when speaking of physical things. So if you have a stick that’s crooked it means there is some kind of curvature to it. That it is bent in shape. When we talk about things that are not physical however then it can mean something that is off, something that is not on the right path, something that would be the opposite of mustaqim.

No Crookedness in It

Why did Allah Most High say in this particular verse: “and hath not placed therein any crookedness”? That seems like a given. Why would even that have to be emphasized? Why would Allah have say that specifically? This gives us an inkling into the sabab al nuzul, the reason or circumstances behind the revelation of this verse.

It is said there were two from among Quraysh at Mecca at the time – one of them being Al Nadhr ibn al Harith, another one being Uqba ibn al Mu‘it – who were from the kuffar, from the disbelievers, and among the staunchest opponents of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. They learned that there were People of the Book, specifically the Jewish tribes, in Medina, and they had an inkling that what the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said and what was being revealed to him seemed to coincide with some of what the Jews knew.

So they went to Medina – this is before the Hijra – to get advice about to deal with him, Allah bless him and give him peace. The Jews instructed them to ask the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, about three things. “Ask him about the Ruh (the spirit). Ask him about the People of the Cave. And ask him about Dhul Qarnayn. See what he says about these things.”

Only if ALlah Wills

They go back to Mecca and sit with the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and they ask him these three things. Imam Ibn Ashur says the one specifically about the Ruh is directly addressed in Sura al Afasy 17:85:

وَيَسْأَلُونَكَ عَنِ الرُّوحِ ۖ قُلِ الرُّوحُ مِنْ أَمْرِ رَبِّي وَمَا أُوتِيتُم مِّنَ الْعِلْمِ إِلَّا قَلِيلًا

They are asking thee concerning the Spirit. Say: The Spirit is by command of my Lord, and of knowledge ye have been vouchsafed but little.

Which means that no one has a definitive answer as to what it is. It is one of the secrets of creation. But the other two are in Sura al Kahf. It said that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said: “I will tell you tomorrow,” anticipating revelation in that regard. However he, Allah bless him and give him peace, did not say insha Allah. Hence, in the later verses of Sura al Kahf (18:23-24) we read:

وَلَا تَقُولَنَّ لِشَيْءٍ إِنِّي فَاعِلٌ ذَٰلِكَ غَدًا
إِلَّا أَن يَشَاءَ اللَّـهُ ۚ

And say not of anything: Lo! I shall do that tomorrow,
Except if Allah will.

So there was a period of fifteen days where there was no revelation about it. The Quraysh thought they finally got something over on the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. For fifteen days he was silent about the things that he was asked about, Allah bless him and give him peace. Only then was Sura al Kahf revealed beginning with this verse:

الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ الَّذِي أَنزَلَ عَلَىٰ عَبْدِهِ الْكِتَابَ وَلَمْ يَجْعَل لَّهُ عِوَجًا

Saying that this was revealed and that there’s no crookedness in it.

So contrary to what the Quraysh were thinking, or what they wanted to promote about the Qur’an, and about the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, there’s nothing in it that’s crooked. And this sura, then, is going to show how exactly that is so.

 


This lesson by Shaykh Walead Mosaad is part of the On Demand Course: Giving Life to Sura Al Kahf, in which Shaykh Walead explains the key lessons of Sura al Kahf: the four great stories in it and the four great tests they represent. Namely the tests of faith, wealth, knowledge, and power. Download the entire lesson-set here.

View other SeekersHub On Demand Courses here.


Taqwa: Content of Character 05 – Shaykh Yahya Rhodus

Shaykh Yahya Rhodus unfolds the essential etiquette we should have with our Lord, with ourselves, and with other people as is found in the concept of taqwa.

قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه و سلم: اتّق الله حيثما كنتَ و أتبع السيئة الحسنة تمحها و خالق الناس حسن

The Messenger of God said, “Keep God in mind wherever you are; follow a wrong with a right that offsets it; and treat people courteously.” (Tirmidhi)

In this hadith our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is telling us about the three dimensions of etiquette (adab) that we need to have. First and foremost with our lord, secondly with ourselves, and thirdly with people.

This hadith is from the comprehensive words of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and you will find that it is a very short hadith. But because it is from his comprehensive words, it is packed with meaning.

Centrality of Taqwa

If we look at the benefits, the first is in the primary etiquette that we should have with our Lord. This is reflected in the words of our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, “Have taqwa of Allah wherever you are,” and taqwa is a difficult word to translate.

Some translate it as mindfulness. Others translate as God consciousness. Yet others will translate it as fear of Allah. However, taqwa is a very important word and I think it is best that we use the word taqwa, and define what it means, until it actually becomes a word in the English language.

Taqwa is of the utmost importance. The reality of taqwa pertains to our relationship with our Lord, praise be to Him, and the decisions that we make. It begins at the basic level with protecting ourselves from anything that would take us outside of the fold of Islam. And it ends in the highest degree where we try to be constantly present with our Lord, praise be to Him.

Inclination and Aversion

What our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us in this hadith is a very subtle etiquette, and we should have taqwa wherever we might be. Think about our own selves and all the different places and times we might be in – by ourselves or with other people. We could be at work or at home, with friends, acquaintances or elders. We can be in times of ease or in times of difficulty. In all of this our nafs inclines or has an aversion towards something.

In all these different states, times and places, what has to be consistent is that we have to be people of taqwa. Taqwa is a very sophisticated reality and it pertains to the way that we ultimately exercise our freedom of choice and choosing what is right or, as we move up in the degrees of closeness to Allah, what is best.

We need to avoid having compartmentalized lifestyles which is so common in the world which we live. We think it is fine for us to focus on one aspect of our lives only. We can be different at home as opposed to the way that we are in the mosque, or as opposed to the way that we are at work.

A Comprehensive Religion

Islam is a comprehensive religion that deals with every aspect of the human being. We want to avoid having compartmentalized lifestyles. Rather, we want to have taqwa at work, at home, at the masjid, in our financial dealings and interactions with people. Even when we are going through difficult times and times of ease, whether we like or dislike something.

Taqwa remains in all of these different states and our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us that this is what we need to be aware of at all times, because we know that as human beings we are weak and we fall short in this. Educating us and teaching us, The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is exemplifying how we should be before our Lord in a way that is pleasing to Him and brings about His pleasure.

Never Lose Hope in Your Lord

The benefits of taqwa are so vast we can go on about them. Allah mentions taqwa more than ninety times in His Book and if we trace the verses that pertain to taqwa, you will end up with a long list of great things that Allah gives to the people of taqwa.

The first benefit of this hadith is teaching us how to be with our Lord. The Primary aspect of that is taqwa. Secondly, it teaches us how we should be with our own selves. These are the words of the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace: “follow a wrong with a right that offsets it.”

The Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, is teaching us how to deal with our selves, particularly when we slip up. We know, as children of Adam, we are prone to slip ups. We are prone to mistakes and we know that we have faults that we are working on. But we fall short at times.

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaches us that: Every time you fall short, immediately dust yourself off and keep moving forward. This is extremely important. This is essential and this will protect us from so many things that other people fall into, whereby they become depressed, lose hope in life and they start to spiral downwards from that.

How many people do we not come across who, because of their past and the things they have done, lose hope for the future? But in reality we’ve only lost if when cease to dust ourselves off, get up and keep moving on. Every time you fall short, dust yourself off, and keep on.

The Blessing of Good Deeds

Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaches us that we should immediately follow a bad deed up with a good deed, so the latter will erase the former. It will erase it from our scrolls and it will also erase the traces of that mistake or that sin from our hearts.

In other words it will be erased from our psychological profiles so even if it was us, we didn’t do it because it no longer will cease to be us. It will no longer will be us because it was erased from our hearts and our scrolls.

Allah says in Sura Hud 11:114:

إِنَّ الْحَسَنَاتِ يُذْهِبْنَ السَّيِّئَاتِ

Indeed, good deeds do away with bad deeds.

Kaffara – Atonement

On the occasion of revelation of this verse, a man that had embraced a woman came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, and informed him and this verse was revealed. The man asked, “Is this in reference to me?” And the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said, “This is not just for you. It is for all of my Umma.” And this man was sincere.

He realized he did something with a woman he shouldn’t do and so he came to the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace. And Allah revealed this verse for him in on this occasion, but also for all people. To inform them that every time you make a mistake and fall short you should strive to immediately do something good.

The Prophet told us in a hadith that the five daily prayers, jumu‘a to jumu‘a, Ramadan to Ramadan, are an atonement for sins accumulated in between them, if the major wrong actions are avoided. So from the blessing of performing what it is that we are supposed to be performing is that it will be an atonement in and of itself.

This atonement will again be a means of forgiveness for the sin and erasing of the blemish of sin that is in our hearts. In other words our hearts will be polished and we will be able to move forward on our path to Allah.

Engage with Courteousness

The third etiquette relates to other people this is the primary principal that we should interact with all people with and that is good character. Our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said “Interact with people with good character, treat people courteously.”

Notice that the Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, said “khaliqin naas.” Treat people courteously, not just Muslims courteously. We should treat all people courteously. We should have manners and respect for all the people we interact with.

This principle of good character should guide us in everything we do. Again, when we are with people – if they are Muslim or non-Muslim, old or young, close or distant, and all of the other social distinctions that we have – does not matter. We maintain good character with everyone.

This is a constant. This is a standard. And the ethical standards of the Qur’an are very. very high. Read the book of Allah. It is filled with great passages and great verses that pertain to good character.

Every time we read those verses we should apply them to ourselves instead of trying to bring the Qur’an down to our own lowly selves, which you can never do and is a grave mistake. We should raise ourselves up to the ethical standards of the Qur’an.

Alhamdulillah, we have been gifted our Prophet, Allah bless him and give him peace, who gave us the great words of advice. Words that are from his comprehensive words, Allah bless him and give him peace, teaching us that the essential etiquette with our lord is to have taqwa. The essential etiquette with ourselves is to follow up a bad deed with a good deed. And the essential etiquette in our dealings with other people is to have good character.

 


The Content of Character podcast is brought to you by Shaykh Yahya Rhodus of Al-Maqasid Institute, and powered by SeekersHub Global Islamic Seminary. Listen to this episode in full on the SeekersHub website, or subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, Android, or RSS.


 

Qari Mouhamed Hady Toure Reads from Al Zumar and Yusuf

Qari and Hafiz Mouhamed Hady Toure’s beautiful readings of Sura al Zumar 39:75 and Sura Yusuf 12:23.

Sura al Zumar 39:75

وَتَرَى الْمَلَائِكَةَ حَافِّينَ مِنْ حَوْلِ الْعَرْشِ يُسَبِّحُونَ بِحَمْدِ رَبِّهِمْ ۖ وَقُضِيَ بَيْنَهُم بِالْحَقِّ وَقِيلَ الْحَمْدُ لِلَّـهِ رَبِّ الْعَالَمِي

And you shall see the angels encircling the Throne proclaiming the praise of their Lord; and justly the issue shall be decided between them; and it shall be said, “Praise belongs to God, the Lord of all Being.”

Sura Yusuf 12:23

وَرَاوَدَتْهُ الَّتِي هُوَ فِي بَيْتِهَا عَن نَّفْسِهِ وَغَلَّقَتِ الْأَبْوَابَ وَقَالَتْ هَيْتَ لَكَ ۚ قَالَ مَعَاذَ اللَّـهِ ۖ إِنَّهُ رَبِّي أَحْسَنَ مَثْوَايَ ۖ إِنَّهُ لَا يُفْلِحُ الظَّالِمُونَ

Now the woman in whose house he was solicited him, and closed the doors on them. “Come,” she said, “take me!” “God be my refuge,” he said. “Surely my lord has given me a goodly lodging. Surely the evildoers do not prosper.”

A Note on Variant Readings

Regarding Sura Yusuf 12:23, Abu Dawud reports:

حَدَّثَنَا أَبُو مَعْمَرٍ عَبْدُ اللَّهِ بْنُ عَمْرِو بْنِ أَبِي الْحَجَّاجِ الْمِنْقَرِيُّ، حَدَّثَنَا عَبْدُ الْوَارِثِ، حَدَّثَنَا شَيْبَانُ، عَنِ الأَعْمَشِ، عَنْ شَقِيقٍ، عَنِ ابْنِ مَسْعُودٍ، أَنَّهُ قَرَأَ ‏{‏ هَيْتَ لَكَ ‏}‏ فَقَالَ شَقِيقٌ إِنَّا نَقْرَؤُهَا ‏{‏ هِئْتُ لَكَ ‏}‏ يَعْنِي فَقَالَ ابْنُ مَسْعُودٍ أَقْرَؤُهَا كَمَا عُلِّمْتُ أَحَبُّ إِلَىَّ ‏.

From Abu Mu‘mar Abd Allah ibn Amr ibn Abi al Hajjaj al Munqari, from Abd al Warith, from Shayban, from Al A‘mash, from Shaqiq, from [Abd Allah] ibn Mas‘ud that he read “Come now, you!” (hayta laka). Shaqiq said: We read it “I am ready for you” (hi’tu laka). Ibn Mas‘ud said: We read it as we have been taught it. It is dearer to us. (Kitab al Huruf wa al Qira‘at)


Learn more about how the religion has come to us; how the Qur’an and Sunna were preserved and transmitted; and how they are soundly interpreted applied—in matters of belief, practice, and spirituality, by enrolling in our STEP 1 Course: Essentials of the Islamic Tradition.

Support SeekersHub Global as it reaches over 10,000 students each term through its completely free online courses. Make a donation, today. Every contribution counts, even if small: http://seekersguidance.org/donate/.